Our Name

oski-pimohtahtamwak otayisīniwiwaw (Nehiyawak)
oski pima ci-owat ici ki-kay-dam-o-win-ing (Nakawē)
wana oicimani tecawosdodyē uncumpi (Dakota)
they are into their new journey to knowledge (English)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Doing the Blanket Exercise at Sacred Heart High School Yorkton by Michael Starr-Desnomie

When I arrive at the door of the high school I see a lot of crosses and Jesus pieces. One of the girls says it is a Catholic School. I just take a breather and go inside. The teachers shake our hands and say, “Welcome to Sacred Heart High School”. We are pointed to the gym where we can set up for the blanket exercise. I see blankets and chairs already set up and ready to go. Some people are already in there waiting, but more come and join. I am just ready to read and try to explain to people what happened to First Nations peoples. 

While reading the European script, it gets to me, telling people who don’t know about Indigenous people. It hurts me still, when I read it over and over again. I mess up on saying some words but I re-read them for people to understand better. Some lady says that I am doing great, looking around and going up to people and telling them what Indigenous people couldn’t do, what they wanted to do and went through, what darkest histories that are behind it all. I am telling people what they never knew, what all happened in the residential schools.

When we end the blanket exercise we all sit down in a talking circle, to say what we think, what we feel. I see a lot of impact on people who cried when they saw the child in their arms being taken from them and put into residential schools. Tears are going down the women’s faces and trying to talk about it, I hear a pain inside their voices. Some of them have children and they are probably thinking about what if that happened to their children and they couldn’t do anything about it or the police would come and take them. Hearing and seeing what the teachers have to say in the talking circle, thanking us for coming out and doing the blanket exercise, hearing their comments, always touches my heart, and I’m just wondering how much pain that it brings inside the teachers just thinking about it and talking about it.

When it is my turn to speak I don’t use my mind to speak; I speak from my heart, telling them thank you for your responses, thank you for sharing what you think and that you try and put yourselves in my ancestors’ shoes, like trying to imagine if all that happened to you. I am touched by them, tears rolling down my face, hitting the gym floor, saying thank you to them for letting us do this blanket exercise to share what dark history is behind it all. After my turn is done I go for a little walk and wipe my tears, then I go back into the gym and sit down. When we are done the talking circle we go around the circle shaking everyone’s hand, getting hugs, even being told “You do have a big heart. Keep it up, keep on telling people who never heard about the blanket exercise.”

After that they have lunch for us all and we sit down to get to know each other, like asking what we think and telling us how well we are doing. After the veggie, pizza, and various meat wraps we go to a class room and I want to tell people about our program, what we are doing and what it means. Showing them our blog, we tell them how many times we did the blanket exercise showing them pictures of our group. I even want to read my poem to them. Tears fall down some people’s faces, even mine. Re-reading my poem still makes me think about what all my people went through and it still hurts me on this very day, but I was told that I do have a big heart from a woman who is one of the teachers here.  She even asks about my necklace that I have around my neck and I tell her it’s my mom’s birth stone and I always wear it wherever I go. I tell her that I really love my mom; she made me who I am. When we are about to leave some guy gives us t-shirts and pins that have Sacred Heart High School and some toques from Oskayak High School in Saskatoon. As we drive away, I say it was a great trip to Yorkton to tell some people about the blanket exercise.


  1. Replies
    1. Michael says, "It's been a pleasure to speak from my heart and I'm planning on doing more and more of speaking from my heart."

  2. Always enjoy reading your blog posts- keep up the great work.

    1. Michael says, "I appreciate that and I will always keep up my good work until my graduation day."

    2. Taish says, "Hey, what about mine? Huh?"

  3. So very proud of you Michael!! Thank you for sharing your experience through your powerful words/voice. I am so happy that you are sharing your beautiful heart, mind, and spirit so freely with others!! Huge hugs!!

    1. Michael says, "I am very touched by your words and I will be doing great throughout the year. And like my mom said, 'become a leader and not a follower' and 'actions speak louder than words'."

    2. Taish says, "Success and perseverance." Mrs. Koops says, "Good job, Taish." Glen Asham says, "Good job Taish." Burton Dubois says, "Good job."